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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Spitting from the window, Antra dalis

Girls at the edge of the dune

The Parnidis Dune (Parnidžio kopos), at 52 meters (171 feet) above sea level, looms over the southern end of Nida, and is the only remaining free-drifting dune on the Curonian Spit. My daughter and I had already trudged along the eastern side of it the previous day, fighting the elements as we made our way back into town, all the while struggling to stay on the safe side of the half-buried fence posts so as to not tumble off the dune and into the Curonian Lagoon. On Friday morning and with my wife in tow, the three of us approached the behemoth in the proper direction, ascending the 180 steps and appreciating the view of Nida and the lagoon from the top:

Panorama shots fail to catch the breadth of the vista from the top, but that didn't me from trying:

A 13.8 meter (45 feet)-high sundial crowns the summit. Made out of granite and weighing 36 tons, it supposedly shows the correct time. Or does on sunnier days, I assume:

From the other side, the view looks out upon the "Sahara of Lithuania", an expanse of coastline, forest and sand stretching into Russia (the tree-lined spit of land in the background is within the territory of the Kaliningrad enclave):

The Parnidis Dune is an impressive sight, and is understandably popular. However, tourism, combined with wind and waves, is taking its toll. The dunes on the Curonian Spit have been reduced by 20 meters (66 feet) over the past 40 years, and despite the designated walking paths, footprints are often seen wandering off into the sand. It isn't clear how much damage the dunes can withstand from the 1.5 million visitors they receive every year.

The weather began to take a turn for the worse as we began our descent down the staircase and back to town. A look back at Parnidis Dune as the rain eased up a little:

The atmospheric instability meant it was an ideal time for a lunch break as we sat down to eat at Ešerinė:

With the rain taking a breather, we visited the Ethnographic Fisherman's Museum (Žvejo Etnografinė Sodyba), which provides a glimpse into what Nida was like in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was a traditional fishing village:

The region is noted for its decorative weather vanes (among other things), such as these standing in the museum's garden:

A replica of a kurėnas, a traditional 19th-century fishing boat, takes tourists on a tour of the lagoon. I thought it would be nifty to do the same, but Shu-E had other ideas...:

...namely, to do the same thing, but on a yacht. And so at five o'clock in the afternoon we found ourselves sitting at the stern as our one-hour cruise set out from the marina:

Once out into the water, the first mast was unfurled:

Our boat sailed toward the sand dunes before turning out toward the deeper waters of the Curonian Lagoon...:

...where the captain ordered the second sail to be used:

The rain gods decided to let us enjoy our cruise in dry comfort:

Being weak Americans, my wife and I were the only adults to wear life jackets:

We eventually headed back to the marina, where I had to admit it was a good decision on Shu-E's part to go sailing on a yacht:

Back onshore, Amber poses next to a statue of Vytautas Kernagis, a "pioneer of Lithuanian sung poetry". The weather had limited our activities on this day, but standing atop the dunes and sailing in the lagoon were still a lot of fun. And on the following day, Mother Nature would ease up enough to allow us to do much more:

Iki kito karto...

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